The Toyota Way

The Toyota Way

Every once in a while you pick up a book you just can’t put down. This happened to me recently when I finally got around to reading The Toyota Way, by Jeffery Liker.

The Toyota Way goes deep inside the heart of the company. Jeffrey shepherds readers through the birth of the company, the development of its founding principles, and the ever so popular Toyota Production System (TPS) itself.

The book is full of stories about the birth of Lexus (Toyota exec’s basically got tired of driving European luxury cars into work everyday) and the revolutionary development of the Prius.

If there is one thing that is made apparent to me after reading this book, it is how young the agile software movement is, and how universal the Toyota principals are. They cross industry, transcend business, and could be used by many companies (more on this later).

I am also starting to appreciate how difficult it is to copy Toyota (I don’t believe you can). Toyota’s been practicing and refining these practices for over 70 years. It’s no wonder Ford and GM can’t catch these guys. It’s much more than the practices.

If you are looking for a great read, and hunger for more after reading Mary and Tom’s Implementing Lean Software Development, this book is for you.

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5 Responses to “The Toyota Way”

  1. Pat Says:

    I don’t think I’ve had a chance to read Toyota Way. It sounds like I should. I’ve read Toyota Talent and thought it was pretty good. It’s got a focus on the method they develop their people. The emphasis still seems on TPS instead of what I’m keen to find out more around the Product Development side intead.

  2. JR Says:

    Hi Pat,

    The book has a whole chapter dedicated to the product develop around the Prius. Basically, management gave the engineers some tough deadlines, with some really tough specs to boot (i.e. +50 miles per gallon) and the dev process Toyota had in place wasn’t sufficient.

    They needed to come up with something completely different. And they did.

    I haven’t read Toyota Talent so I can’t comment on that per se. But so far, I am really enjoying the Toyota Way. It gets deep into the principles, and how they manifest themselves in everything Toyota does.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Derek Strembicke Says:

    Preamble: Interesting to see when peers are approaching the same point in life

    I’ll be interested in reading this one. Others of similar interest include “Good to Great”, Built to Last, and Organizing Genious.

    Sadly, I agree fully with you that replicating any of the concepts is extremely difficult. In my experience, it is not as easy as having the right intentions and saying the right things and is further frustrated by the fact that all these case studies are carried out on the recognizable successes and the conclusions are suspect; that is, the identified causal principals may be merely correlated.

    One truth has become quite apparent (to me); at the bare minimum you have get the ‘right’ people together, without that you can start nothing.

  4. JR Says:

    Hi Derek,

    100% agree on getting the ‘right people on the bus’.
    It’s the people that make the journey.

    Good hearing from you.

  5. Michael Says:


    The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation, by Matthew E. May. speaks to Toyota’s product development mentality more than other books that just explain the manufacturing elements. It may provide some insight for you.

    A frequent quote about Toyota:
    We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes. We observe that our competitors get average (or worse) results from brilliant people managing broken processes” – A Senior Toyota Executive


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